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Jane E. Ruseski, Brad R. Humphreys, Kirstin Hallman, Pamela Wicker, and Christoph Breuer

Background:

A major policy goal of many ministries of sport and health is increased participation in sport to promote health. A growing literature is emerging about the benefits of sport participation on happiness. A challenge in establishing a link between sport participation and happiness is controlling for endogeneity of sport participation in the happiness equation.

Methods:

This study seeks to establish causal evidence of a relationship between sport participation and self reported happiness using instrumental variables (IV).

Results:

IV estimates based on data from a 2009 population survey living in Rheinberg, Germany indicate that individuals who participate in sport have higher life happiness. The results suggest a U-shaped relationship between age and self-reported happiness. Higher income is associated with greater self-reported happiness, males are less happy than females, and single individuals are less happy than nonsingles.

Conclusions:

Since the results are IV, this finding is interpreted as a causal relationship between sport participation and subjective well-being (SWB). This broader impact of sport participation on general happiness lends support to the policy priority of many governments to increase sport participation at all levels of the general population.